3rd Sunday of Advent, Year C

FR TONY'S HOMILYHOMILY ANECDOTESRCIA LESSONSFAITH FORMATION LESSONS
THE PHILOSOPHY OF X (9:28) – Social studies teacher Eugene Simonet (Kevin Spacey) gives his class an assignment: look at the world around you and fix what you don’t like. One student comes up with an idea: #1 it is something that really helps people; #2 something they can’t do it by themselves; and #3 do it for them, then do it for three other people.
8-MINUTE HOMILY

Rejoice!

http://frtonyshomilies.com/

The central theme of today’s readings is the command “Rejoice!” We are to do so mainly by realizing the presence of Jesus in our midst, by receiving Jesus into our lives through our repentance, our renewal of life, and by doing God’s will. Today is called “Gaudete” Sunday because today’s Mass begins with the opening antiphon, “Gaudete in Domino semper” (“Rejoice in the Lord always”). Today we light the rose candle of the Advent wreath, and the priest may wear rose vestments, to express our communal joy in the coming of Jesus as our SaviorWe rejoice because a) we are celebrating the day of Christ’s birth, b) we recognize Jesus’ daily presence in our midst, and c) we wait for Christ’s return in glory.

Homily Starter Anecdote

The conventional wisdom is that every homily should begin with a story to capture the congregation’s attention and to introduce the theme. 
OPTION A: DON'T YOU GIVE OUT WARNINGS?

Don’t you give out warnings?

Patricia Greenlee tells a story about her son who is a West Virginia state trooper. Once he stopped a woman for going 15 miles an hour over the speed limit. After he handed her a ticket, she asked him, “Don’t you give out warnings?” “Yes, ma’am,” he replied. “They’re all up and down the road. They say, ‘Speed Limit 55.’”

People have a tendency to disregard the warning signs, don’t they? Sometimes that has dire consequences. Today’s Gospel presents John the Baptist warning the Jews with prophetic courage of their need for repentance and conversion.

OPTION B: JOHN WAS NO GANDER PREACHER

John was no “gander preacher”

Soren Kierkegaard the well-known philosopher of Denmark has a famous fable about geese. The geese in a certain farmyard decided to gather together every seventh day. At that time, one of the ganders would mount the fence and preach to his fellow geese about their lofty destiny. The pulpit gander would recall the exploits of their forefathers and praise God for the gift of flight bestowed upon them. The congregation of fowl would flap their wings in hearty agreement. This routine happened every week. After each assembly the geese would break up and waddle to their respective places in the farmyard and eat the grain the kind farmer had scattered on the ground for them. On Monday morning the geese would chat about Sunday’s sermon and discuss what might happen if they took to the skies once again. They might get lost or even worse, they might get shot. There was little doubt among them that the best thing was to linger in the farmyard with its security. The sermons would stir them and that was sufficient. It was good to hear what they could be and do, as long as they need not do it or be it! All the while they didn’t realize they were being fattened for the holiday tables of the farmer and his friends.

That happened in a fable on fowl but it can, and all too frequently does, happen in a Church service on Sunday. The people are told simply what they must do. When John was through preaching, the people asked questions about deeds … what they should do. And then, having been so guided in their thoughts, they received and acted upon the Holy Spirit’s prompting , immediately doing that which they had learned was pleasing to the Lord.

OPTION C: PAY IT FORWARD

Pay It Forward

The film, Pay It Forward, (based on the novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde) has the same premise that underlies the source of the joy and happiness celebrated in today’s liturgy.  The film tells the story of a seventh-grade teacher (Eugene Simonet) and his eleven-year-old student (Trevor).  On the first day of class, the teacher puts this challenge on the blackboard: “Think of something new that will change the world, and then act on what you have thought.”  The idea captivates the boy, who lives with his single parent, an alcoholic mother.  The boy attempts to put this idea into practice by helping people, who will, in turn, “pay it forward” by helping others.

The boy draws a circle in his homework book and puts his name in the middle.  From that circle, he extends three lines, at the end of which are three more circles.

  • In the first circle he writes his mother’s name.  He will try to get her to give up her alcoholism.
  • In the second circle he writes the name of a classmate who is being bullied by the larger boys in school.  He will make it his duty to defend this fellow.
  • In the third circle, he writes the name of his teacher, whom he will try to persuade to fall in love with his mother.

These are huge challenges for the boy.  The film then shows the steep obstacles he faces in his attempt to improve his world.

In the end, Pay It Forward inspires us to imagine the possibilities of making the world a better place, transforming one person at a time by a series of “random acts of kindness” and love.  The movie teaches us that when someone does a good deed for us, we should “pay it forward” by making “an act of Faith in the goodness of people.”  The net result is lasting peace and joy, the central theme of Advent third Sunday’s readings.

Click on chevron banners for additional insights into this week’s scripture in order to relate it to the lives of your parishioners.

First Reading

In today’s first reading, the prophet Zephaniah encourages Jerusalem and Israel to shout out for the joy of their expected deliverance by the Lord. In today’s Responsorial Psalm (Is 12:6), the prophet Isaiah gives the same instruction, “Shout with exultation, O city of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

WANT TO SAY MORE?

Additional insights on the First Reading from Fr. Tony

Zephaniah 3:14-18, explained: Most Bible scholars believe that Zephaniah prophesied about 600 years before Jesus was born, while King Josiah was trying to reform Judaism. The Lord God’s message through Zephaniah’s prophecy is four parts doom and violent gloom, and one part hope. Prophesying in the turbulent years before Judah’s conquest by Babylonia (ca 640-609 BC), Zephaniah anticipates the disaster which is soon to befall his people. But he also anticipates the goodness of God Who will not abandon the people who have been called, consecrated, and committed to Him through the bonds of the Covenant. Our reading today is taken from this hopeful finale, encouraging the people to rejoice because the Lord has withdrawn His judgments and given the victory to His people, among whom we are included. Zephaniah is speaking to a people who have been burdened with war, destruction, and displacement. Their lives have been assaulted, and their hopes have been dashed. Now, however, they will have reason to rejoice: “The Lord has removed the judgment against you” (in other words, God has forgiven them); and “the King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst” (that is to say, God is with them); “you have no further misfortune to fear” (i.e., He delivers them from evil). The prophetic message concludes by giving the assurance, “He will rejoice over you and renew you in His love” (He loves you and wants to reconcile you to Himself). The whole reading gives us the same assurance. Fears raised by wars, terrorism, and the erosion of moral values need not prevent us from trusting that God will continue to encircle us with love and will grant us the peace we so desperately seek.


Second Reading

St. Paul echoes this message of joy in the second reading, a letter written from imprisonment: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again, rejoice…” 

WANT TO SAY MORE?

Additional insights on the Second Reading from Fr. Tony

Philippians 4:4-17, explained: The entire letter emphasizes the relationships which the followers of Jesus are expected to develop. Paul was very fond of, and confident in, the Philippian Christians because they belonged to the first Church that Paul established on European soil, in the Roman province of Macedonia. Previously, Paul had preached the Gospel in Philippi and founded a small community of Christians there. Having been persecuted and beaten by the Pharisees, however, he had been forced to leave. Now, writing from prison (perhaps in Ephesus), awaiting trial, and with his helper Epaphroditus seriously ill, Paul can still command the Philippians to “Rejoice.” They have to ignore the petty internal rivalries of its ministering members like Evodia and Syntyche, the presence of hostile Jews as neighbors and the unwelcome presence of the Romans. Since all believe that Jesus will return very soon in glory to judge the world (“The Lord is near”), Paul feels the need to bolster their courage. He reminds the Philippians and us that the Lord Jesus is our motive for, and the Guarantor of, our joy, which we are to share with everyone by means of kindness and serenity. He encourages the Philippians to be kind to all, to rejoice without any anxiety and to raise prayers of petition and thanksgiving to God in order to enable their hearts to be filled with the peace of God. Paul reminds us, too, that God’s presence in our world not only gives us a reason to rejoice but also gives us a reason to relate kindly to those around us. Fr. Tony de Mello says in his book, Awareness, “We have everything we need here and now to be happy. The problem is that we identify our happiness with people or things we don’t have and often can’t have.”


Gospel

In the Gospel today, John the Baptist explains the secret of Christian joy as our wholehearted commitment to God’s Way by the doing of His will. John challenges people to generosity and a sense of fairness so that others may have reason to rejoice. According to John, happiness comes from doing our duties faithfully, doing good for others, and sharing our blessings with others in need. John’s call to repentance is a call to joy and restoration. Repentance means a change in the purpose and direction of our lives. John tells the people to act with justice, charity, and honesty, letting their lives reflect their transformation. For us, that transformation occurs when Christ enters our lives, and it is to be reflected in our living in the ways John suggests.

WANT TO SAY MORE?

Additional insights on the Gospel from Fr. Tony

John’s central message — repentance leading to renewal of life: John here preaches fervently, urging his listeners to make preparations for the coming of the Messiah. Even though John’s preaching is characterized by scathing criticism, his call for reform is still described by Luke as “the Good News,” because the arrival of the Messiah will initiate a new reign of forgiveness, healing, and salvation. The repentance which John preaches calls for a change in behavior, not just simple regret for the past. According to Scott Hahn “Repentance” translates a Greek word, metanoia (literally, “change of mind”). It means a radical life-change involving a two-fold “turning” – away from sin (see Ezekiel 3:1918:30) and toward God for His mercy and acceptance (see Sirach 17:20-21Hosea 6:1). It requires “good fruits as evidence of our repentance” (see Luke 3:8). That’s why John tells the crowds, soldiers, tax collectors, and us as well, that all of us must prove our Faith through works of charity, honesty, and social justice. John demands that we share our goods with one another, emphasizing the principle of social justice that no one may rest content to have too much while others have too little. John also insists that a man should not leave his job to work out his own salvation. Instead, he should do his job as it should be done. He calls people to fidelity in the very circumstances of their lives. Let the tax-collector be a good tax-collector and let the soldier be a good soldier. In other words, it is a man’s duty to serve God where God has set him. “Bloom where you are planted,” St. Francis De Sales used to say. We are expected to become transformational agents where we are. And if the work environment is such that we are unable to deal honestly and fairly with other people, we should probably find a new job. No wonder John’s stirring message created a restless yearning for God in the hearts of the crowd, prompting them to ask the eager question, “What should we do?” People from every walk of life throng to John; some come only out of curiosity, but others, clearly motivated by religious fervor, seek John’s advice about the direction their lives should take. John has a message for each group of listeners. “John’s water-baptism was intended to produce repentance, but Jesus’ Baptism was to accomplish a purification and a refinement.” (Joseph Fitzmyer: The Gospel According to Luke). Where John advocates fairness and equity, Jesus issues a call to perfection.


Instructions to the public: John advises people, not to be dreamers or planners only, but doers moved by sincerity and commitment. John tells the ordinary people to share what they have – their clothes and food – with those who are in need. If they are really sorry for their sins, that is, if they really want to change their lives, they will become brothers and sisters to all others, including strangers.


Instructions to the tax collectors: John preaches against greed, selfishness, and the abuse of power and position. The tax collectors, to whom the Baptizer speaks here, worked for a person like Zacchaeus (Lk 19:2), a “chief” tax collector who bid for the right to collect taxes and made his profit from what remained after he had first paid Rome’s portion. So, the Baptizer addresses mainly the employees of the chief tax collectors and urges them to be satisfied with “the amount prescribed for you” (Luke 3:13), that is, their commission.


Advice to the soldiers: There were no Roman legions stationed in Galilee at this time, and Judeans had been exempt from service in Roman armies since the time of Julius Caesar. These soldiers, therefore, were Judean men enlisted in the service of Herod Antipas, despised because they worked for Rome’s puppet king and strove to enforce the will of Rome, the occupying power, upon their fellow-Jews. The Baptizer advises them not to practice extortion or blackmail, but to be content with their pay, or rations and provisions.

Life messages

We are called to a change of life

First, we should examine our relationships with others. We must mend ruptures, ease or relieve frictions, face family responsibilities, work honestly, and treat employees and employers justly. Our domestic and social lives must be put in order. We must abandon our selfish thirst for consumption and, instead, be filled with the expectation of Jesus’ coming.


We need to remember that we are, like John the Baptist, Christ’s precursors

Parents, teachers, and public servants act as Christ’s precursors by repenting of their sins, reforming their lives, and bringing Christ into the lives of those entrusted to their care. Parents are expected to instill in their children a true Christian spirit and an appreciation for Christian values by their own lives and behavior. All public servants need to remember that they are God’s instruments and that they are to lead the people they serve to the feet of Jesus, so that they, too, may know him personally and accept him as their Savior, Lord and Brother.

WANT TO SAY MORE?

#1: We need to prepare the way for the Messiah in our hearts: We have to fill in the “valleys” of our souls which have resulted from our shallow prayer life and a minimalist way of living out our Faith. We have to straighten whatever crooked paths we’ve been walking, like involvement in some secret or habitual sins or in a sinful relationship. If we have been involved in some dishonest practices at work or at home, we are called to straighten them out and make restitution. If we have been harboring grudges or hatred, or failing to be reconciled with others, now is the time to clear away all the debris. If we have been pushing God off to the side of our road, if we have been saying to Him that we don’t really have the time for Him, now is the time for us to get our priorities straight. As individuals, we might have to overcome deep-seated resentment, persistent fault-finding, unwillingness to forgive, dishonesty in our dealings with others, or a bullying attitude. And we all have to level the “mountains” of our pride and egocentrism. As a society we might have to dismantle unfair housing policies, employment disparity, economic injustice, or racial and ethnic biases.


#2: We need to repent and seek forgiveness from God and our fellow-human beings: John’s message calls us to confront and confess our sins. We have to turn away from them in sincere repentance in order to receive God’s forgiveness. There are basically two reasons why people who have recognized their sins fail to receive forgiveness for them. The first is that they fail to repent — but the second is that they fail to forgive. Jesus is very explicit about this (Matthew 6:14-15). He says, “For if you forgive men their transgressions, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Is there someone I need to forgive today? Someone’s whose pardon I need to ask? We must not let what others have done destroy our lives. We can’t be forgiven unless we forgive. We must release our bitterness if we are to be able to allow God to do His healing work in our lives.


# 3: We need to accommodate John the Baptizer in our lives: William Bausch offers some suggestions as to how we might accommodate the Baptizer. “Make friends with someone you’re at odds with. Pick up the phone and talk to somebody you haven’t talked to in months or years. Be the first to hold out the hand of reconciliation even though it gets slapped or rejected. Don’t turn your head at shady dealings. Be willing to put some of your possessions on the line. Tithe, not out of your excess, but out of your substance. Add up the amounts you have set aside for your Christmas spending, and then slice off 10 percent and give it to the poor. Give evidence that you mean to repent.” Sally Koch reminds us that great opportunities to help others seldom come but small ones surround us every day. It takes only a minute to be kind, but the prophet reminds us the end result can remain forever and a day.

End of homily

Jokes of the Week

At the end of Mass, some priests like to offer a joke to their parishioners. Please be sensitive though to particular circumstances or concerns. Some Jokes may not be suitable for particular times, placeS, OR CONGREGATIONS. 

CHOOSE ONE

#1: He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none” (Lk 3:11): I once heard of a Christian speaker who declared rhetorically, expecting the answer, “Yes”‘: “If you had two houses, you would give one to the poor, wouldn’t you?” “Yes,” said the man to whom the question was directed, “indeed I would.” “And if you had two cars,” went on the speaker, “you would keep one and give the other away?” “Yes, of course,” said the man. “And if you had two shirts, you would give one away?” “Hey, wait a minute,” said the man, “I’ve got two shirts.”

# 2: Usher Seats Pastor’s Mother: An elderly woman walked into the local country church. A friendly usher greeted her at the door and helped her up the flight of steps. “Where would you like to sit?” he asked. “The front row please,” she answered. “You really don’t want to do that,” the usher said. “The pastor is really boring with his long Advent homilies.” “Do you happen to know who I am?” asked the woman. “No,” said the usher. “I’m the pastor’s mother,” she replied indignantly. “Do you know who I am?” the usher asked. “No,” she said. “Good.” Said the usher.

Fr. Tony started his homily ministry (Scriptural Homilies) in 2003 while he was the chaplain at Sacred Heart residence, applying his scientific methodology to the homily ministry. By word of mouth, it spread to hundreds of priests and Deacons, finally reaching Vatican Radio website (http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html). Fr. Tony’s homilies reach nearly 3000 priests and Deacons by direct email every week. Since Fr. Tony is retiring from parish duties, he has started a personal website: https://frtonyshomilies.com/ where he has started putting his Sunday and weekday homilies, RCIA lessons, Faith Formation articles and other useful items for pastors and pastoral assistants. Fr. Tony warmly invites priests and deacons and the public to visit his website and use it for their preaching and teaching ministries. He welcomes your corrections, modifications and suggestions to improve the homilies and articles given in this website.

Captain Leonard Larue

CURRENTS NEWS (4:17) – Brother Marinus Leonard Larue has been described as one man with two lives. From saving 14-thousand Korean refugees during the Korean War as a U.S. Merchant Marine Captain, to becoming a Benedictine Monk, his canonization cause has been advanced by his Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey.

During the Korean War, Communist forces invaded the city of Hungnam and began mass executions of Koreans who were suspected of sympathizing with the American cause.  The American Navy responded to this atrocity by sending 200 ships to evacuate the refugees from Hungnam.

On December 22, 1950, Captain Leonard LaRue and his crew steered their ship, Meredith Victory, in to the Hungnam harbor.  The Meredith Victory was only supposed to be delivering jet fuel, but they were immediately called into service as a refugee ship.  Over 14,000 desperate Korean refugees crowded onto the ship.  Captain LaRue said a silent prayer as his men pulled up the anchor and headed for South Korea.

Over the next few days, the crew and passengers endured freezing temperatures.  There was only enough food and water to keep them all from starving, but not enough to satisfy their hunger.  They were in constant danger from enemy fire.  But as they sailed for a safe port, Captain LaRue took comfort in the thought that Mary and Joseph and Jesus had also known hunger and cold and danger.

In the midst of hardship, Captain LaRue also reported a change in his men’s attitudes.  They gave away their own food and clothing to the refugees.  Seven babies were born on the ship, each one delivered by teams of unskilled sailors.

On Christmas Day, 1950, the Meredith Victory landed in safe harbor.  Not a single life had been lost on the voyage.  Captain Leonard LaRue received high military awards from the South Korean and the U.S. government for his part in the refugee rescue.

Four years later, Captain LaRue left the military to join a Benedictine monastery, where he spent the rest of his life.  In his journals, he once wrote, “The clear, unmistakable message comes to me that, on that Christmastide in the bleak and bitter waters off the shore of Korea, God’s hand was at the helm of my ship.” [Thomas Fleming, “Precious Cargo,” Guideposts (December 2002), pp. 29-32] And indeed it was.


John was no “gander preacher”

Soren Kierkegaard the well-known philosopher of Denmark has a famous fable about geese. The geese in a certain farmyard decided to gather together every seventh day. At that time, one of the ganders would mount the fence and preach to his fellow geese about their lofty destiny. The pulpit gander would recall the exploits of their forefathers and praise God for the gift of flight bestowed upon them. The congregation of fowl would flap their wings in hearty agreement. This routine happened every week. After each assembly the geese would break up and waddle to their respective places in the farmyard and eat the grain the kind farmer had scattered on the ground for them. On Monday morning the geese would chat about Sunday’s sermon and discuss what might happen if they took to the skies once again. They might get lost or even worse, they might get shot. There was little doubt among them that the best thing was to linger in the farmyard with its security. The sermons would stir them and that was sufficient. It was good to hear what they could be and do, as long as they need not do it or be it! All the while they didn’t realize they were being fattened for the holiday tables of the farmer and his friends.

That happened in a fable on fowl but it can, and all too frequently does, happen in a Church service on Sunday. The people are told simply what they must do. When John was through preaching, the people asked questions about deeds … what they should do. And then, having been so guided in their thoughts, they received and acted upon the Holy Spirit’s prompting , immediately doing that which they had learned was pleasing to the Lord.


John the Baptist’s challenge  for a new beginning

WATCH MOJO (5:52) – Beginning with the end of the U.S. Civil War in 1865, African Americans toiled to reach equal status in the eyes of the law. Not only that, they also struggled against abuse – both physical and mental – by racist members of society. Starting with the right to vote, and then laboring to integrate schools and other aspects of everyday life, the Civil Rights Movement made huge strides over a century of work. While the crusade may never truly be over, many considered the election of the country’s first African American President to be a turning point in the battle.

So often in history the very best people in society find themselves on the other side, opposing God, as the Pharisees did.  It’s only later that we see God’s hand at work. Let’s look at our own society. It’s difficult for young people today to believe, but some of the people in this congregation remember the time when African-American men and women were, by law, second-class citizens.

In some parts of our country they were not allowed into the better restaurants or hotels. They had to use separate drinking fountains and rest rooms. They had to ride in the back seats of public transportation. And, of course, many children went to segregated schools. This was the law, and many white people, even Church people, supported. it.

Barely 100 years earlier, landowners, primarily in the South, held, or “owned,” African-Americans as slaves. Imagine that–owning another person–in the United States! What would make anyone think they had such a right?

As we look back on it now, we realize how barbaric and horrible it was, and we are ashamed. Yet, only 58 years ago, when civil rights marchers took to the streets in 1963 demanding equal rights, there were many religious people who denounced them as agents of the devil. You and I can see today that surely God has been at work in our country making us the kind of society we should be, but often we only recognize the hand of God in the rear-view mirror.


“Always winter and never Christmas”

MOVIE CLIP (2:15) – While playing HIde-and-seek, Lucy Pevensie walks into a room and found a covered wardrobe. She removed the cloak that covers the wardrobe and opened it and entered the wardrobe door. Not knowingly, she already discovered Narnia.

In the second chapter of C.S. Lewis’ book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, little Lucy stumbles through the back of a wardrobe into the imaginary country of Narnia. Although it’s summer in England (where the wardrobe sits), it’s winter in Narnia. Shivering in the cold, Lucy soon meets a faun, Mr. Tumnus, who tells her what wintertime is like in Narnia. The wintertime is perpetual, says Mr. Tumnus, and is the result of someone called the White Witch. “It’s she who makes it always winter (here),” Tumnus says, “Always winter and never Christmas; think of that!”

What a wonderful description of a world without Christ: “Always winter and never Christmas . . .”


The birthmark

STEPHEN LASH (3:23) – An adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “the Birthmark”

Repentance is relationship. Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote a short story titled, “The Birthmark.” It is a story about a man who married a very beautiful woman who had a birthmark on her left cheek. She had always thought of it as a beauty spot, but her husband saw the birthmark to be a sign of imperfection, a flaw. It began wearing on him so much that all he could see was that birthmark. He could not see her beauty, her graciousness, or her great personality. He could only focus on what he perceived to be a flaw. He hounded her until she finally submitted to surgery to remove the so-called flaw. The birthmark eventually faded, but so did she. In Hawthorne’s mind, that birthmark was tied to her identity and shortly after its removal, she died. A man who sought perfection ended up with nothing.

That is not the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That is not the God that we come to worship today. Nevertheless, when we think about Advent and hear words like “repentance” and “perfection,” many times we get negative connotations in our minds. But today’s Gospel tells us that is something positive. Repentance means to change the direction of your life. It means to make a 180-degree turn, start walking toward God, His vision, His aim, and His goal for your life.


Rejoicing in facial paralysis

TRULY (7:14) – HAVING a giant birthmark has taught a body positivity advocate how to accept herself for who she is and spread an inspiring message of self-love. Nathalia, of Los Angeles, was born in Brazil with a rare condition known as Congenital Melanocytic Nevus, which caused her to have a birthmark that covered 40% of her face and scalp, as well as “satellite marks” all over her body. Throughout her childhood in Porto Alegre, Nathalia underwent nine surgeries between the ages of nine months and 13 years, to remove the birthmark, which has left her with significant scarring on one side of her face. But she hasn’t let her hardships hold her back from inspiring others with her story. She told Barcroft Studios: “When I see myself in the mirror, I see a pretty woman. I love my hair, I love my eyebrow, and my smile.”

A few years ago The Reader’s Digest reported the story of an attractive and successful business woman who noticed a small lump behind her ear as she was brushing her hair one morning. As the days went on, she noticed that the lump was getting larger, so she decided to see her doctor. Her worst fears were confirmed. The doctor told her that the lump was a large tumor that would require immediate surgery.

When she awoke following the surgery, she found her entire head wrapped like that of a mummy. She could see herself in a mirror only through two tiny holes cut into the wrapping. When the bandages were removed after a week, she was shocked to see that her once attractive features had become disfigured by a facial paralysis caused perhaps by damage to facial nerves during the removal of the tumor. Standing before the mirror, she told herself that she had to make a choice whether to laugh or to cry. She decided to laugh.

Although the various therapies tried were unsuccessful in alleviating the facial paralysis, her decision to laugh in the face of adversity allowed this woman to carry on with her life with joy, giving encouragement to those with similar paralysis.


Wow! No catalogue or announcement can replace the real thing! 

I remember one summer when I was a very young, maybe eight years of age. Mother dug out the “Monky” Wards [Montgomery-Ward] and Sears catalogues, set them in front of me, and told me that for Christmas I could pick any one thing that I would like Santa Claus to bring for Christmas – provided it did not cost more than fifty cents. Wow! What wonderful news! Maybe Mother’s motives were just to keep me occupied and out of her way. Whatever the reason, I discovered another world of dreams and desires, and the next few weeks and months were spent tirelessly going over many pictures of toy airplanes and tanks, hunting knives, fishing odds and ends – everything a young lad just had to have but requiring a special and deliberate choice! When Advent rolled around, it was an even more intense time of waiting in eager anticipation, albeit for the wrong thing. — In his time, Isaiah the Prophet was sent by the Lord to bring Good News to those who really needed to hear about the abundant blessings waiting for them. Centuries later, John the Baptist was given the same calling, and pointed out to his listeners that  Someone was already in their midst, the Light of the world that they did not yet recognize. For those with hope, that was absolutely wonderful news, because it pointed to the long-awaited Messiah!

Now, “fast forward” to today. As believers, we already know that the Messiah, Jesus Christ, is indeed among us. His Real Presence is available to us at every Mass, when we celebrate the Eucharistic liturgy and receive His precious Body and Blood. Wow! No catalogue or announcement can replace the real thing! And yet, Advent is a time to remember all of these things: the promise, the waiting, the fulfillment of all in Jesus Christ, the Son of God! There remains the additional promise of a second coming. Are you as eager for Jesus Christ to return as you surely ought to be? How are you preparing your heart for his return? (Fr. Robert F. McNamara).


Please be patient
as page loads

Please be patient
as page loads

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.